Instincts, gut feelings, hunches, premonitions … all of these words point to a deep capacity that we all carry inside known as intuition.
The word intuition originally came from the Latin word intueri, which meant “to contemplate” or “to look within.” Without learning how to look and listen to our intuition, we tend to rely solely on the limited rational mind or external input from others, which can quickly lead us astray.
Many scientists and researchers are now referring to intuition as the highest form of intelligence we possess. In other words, intuition is no longer limited to the new age world or magical thought; it is increasingly being seen as a legitimate way to make judgments and decisions.
Unsurprisingly, spiritual traditions for thousands of years have all known and revered the powers of intuition. Buddhist, Islamic, Hindu, and western philosophy have all connected intuition with planes of higher consciousness or the Soul. The Advaita Vedānta for example (a school of Hindu thought) values intuition as an experience through which a person can contact and experience Brahman (Spirit/God).
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung also believed that intuition is a powerful force, once writing, “Intuition gives outlook and insight; it revels in the garden of magical possibilities.”
Personally, I see intuition as the “Soul’s GPS” which can help us discover our life purpose, make wise decisions, and lead fulfilling lives.
How to Distinguish Fearful Thoughts From Intuition
Unfortunately, it’s very common for us to confuse the voice of intuition with the voice of fear. In order for us to make the most intelligent, successful, wise, loving, and meaningful decisions in our lives, we need to learn how to make a clear distinction between the two.
As a person who has a very strong “inner skeptic,” it has been difficult for me to loosen my rational brain in favor of my intuition. As a thinker, my mental voice has always been quite strong and persistent. I’m sure you have struggled with this to some extent too.
What helped me to distinguish fearful thoughts from intuitive guidance was to pay attention to how each inner voice felt in my body. Here are some main differences between fear and intuition.
- Feels heavy and dark
- Emotionally-charged (e.g. “I need to do this or else ____ will happen!!”)
- Makes you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, confused or anxious
- Causes you to ruminate and get lost in cycles of thought
- Feels light
- Crystal clear
- Makes you feel calm, inspired, and a sense of resolution
- Spontaneously arises and immediately feels “right” without further rational thought
By paying attention to these signs, you will slowly be able to distinguish paranoid thinking from neutral and intuitive knowing.
How to Use Intuition to Make Important Life Decisions
Intuition means exactly what it sounds like, in-tuition! An inner tutor or teaching and learning mechanism that takes us forward daily. It is a resource that, where recognized, has infinite potential. – Sylvia Clare
Intuition is an essential life skill that we must all learn to refine and develop, preferably sooner rather than later. Without intuition, we get stranded in labyrinths of rigid, agitated or obsessive thoughts that limit our capacity to see clearly. The less clear we can see, the more likely we will make bad decisions.
When we listen to our intuition, we experience clarity or clear insight that helps us to make the most beneficial choices for our lives. Below I will share with you how to use your intuition to make important life decisions.
1. Silence your mind
Often the mind tends to hijack our decision making processes. While it is important that you use rational thought, your usual thinking is often subject to prejudice, past beliefs, external influences (“peer pressure”), and fear.
To access your intuition, you need to clear your mind of thought. In order to clear your mind, I recommend that you meditate, listen to some relaxing music, or focus on mindful breathing. It is very difficult to listen to your intuition when you’re in a stressed-out state of mind.
For example, you might like to try breathing deeply for a few minutes. Breath in through your nose and allow your belly to gently expand. You may like to slow your breath to the count of four and breathe in slowly for four seconds, hold for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds.
Try doing any practice that relaxes and stills your mind. Only once you are calm and centered can you accurately access your intuitive power.
2. Ask yourself, “How do I feel about this decision?”
Once you have relaxed your mind and body, inwardly ask yourself, “How do I feel about this decision?” Notice the first feeling, sensation, word or image that arises within you. You might like to write down whatever appears and reflect on it some more.
3. Focus on the sensations in your body
We can never be deceived by our body because our body can never lie. No matter what elaborate stories or theories we concoct, our body will always reveal the truth of the matter.
In order to connect with your intuition, try listening to your body. Think about the decision you have to make, and focus on your body’s response. For example, if you want to quit your job, you might notice a sensation of relief flood your entire body (which is a sign that you should quit your job!). Alternatively, if you are thinking of moving to a certain town, you might feel your shoulders and neck tense up (which is most likely a sign that you shouldn’t move there).
By using mindful body awareness, you will be able to connect more freely with your intuition.
4. Explore whether fear is fuelling you
Fear has a sneaky way of disguising as intuition. When we are fearful we tend to make rash decisions or believe that we are “following our intuition” because of how strong the mental voice can become. When you are faced with an important decision, try writing down all of your fears surrounding the situation on a piece of paper. Making your fears visible will help you to determine whether the voice within you is driven by fear or clear knowing.
5. Formulate your conclusion, and live both scenarios
Come up with a range of solutions and mentally live out each scenario. Visualize each choice as vividly as you can, then pay attention to how each option feels. Whichever option feels the most “right” is the choice you need to go for.
6. Don’t allow pressure to bias you
Are you putting a lot of pressure on yourself? Pressure to make a “quick decision” tends to inhibit the flow of intuition. While intuition can work under strenuous circumstances, if you have the option to slow down, please do. Just because you aren’t obsessing over something doesn’t mean the thought isn’t bubbling in your subconscious mind. Sometimes putting decision making on the “back burner” helps you to relax, adopt new perspectives, and open more easily to the presence of your intuitive knowing.
7. Ask for guidance
When I struggle to access my intuition, I say a prayer of guidance asking my Soul for support. If you are struggling with accessing your intuition, say a small prayer to whomever or whatever you believe in (e.g. your Higher Self, Soul, Spirit, God, Allah). You don’t need to be religious to pray. Prayer is condensed energy and intention which will help you to focus your willpower. Saying a prayer is a powerful way to enhance your intuitive prowess.
8. Clear your third eye chakra
If you believe in chakra healing, focus on balancing your third eye chakra, which is the center of your intuitive abilities. If you struggle with problems such as negative thinking patterns, over-thinking, paranoia or anxiety, you most likely have a third eye chakra problem. There are many ways to unblock this chakra, and we explore them in our article how to open your third eye.
By learning how to silence your mind, connect with your body, identify fear, and clear energy blockages, you will find it easier to access your intuition in any life circumstance.
I hope this article has helped to give you more insight and guidance. Please share any tips you have for trusting intuition below!